Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Otters killed on roads shed new light on lead pollution

30.08.2006
Otters found dead on our roads are providing important new information on the ecology of this secretive species - and evidence of how successful the ban on lead in petrol has been in reducing levels of lead pollution.

Speaking at the British Ecological Society's Annual Meeting next week, Dr Liz Chadwick of Cardiff University's Otter Project will report the results of collaborative research with Cornwall's Wildlife Veterinary Investigation Project. Both have been conducting post mortems on otters killed by cars and reported by members of the public since 1992, in an initiative funded by the Environment Agency.

“We measured the level of lead in rib-bones taken from over three hundred otters found dead in south-west England between 1992 and 2004, collected by wildlife veterinary pathologist Vic Simpson. We compared this with levels of lead found in stream sediment by the British Geological Society, and airborne emissions recorded by the National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory. While some variation related to geology, we found an extremely strong decline over time, reflecting declining emissions from car fuel: otter bone lead levels in 2004 were less than a quarter of those in 1992,” Dr Chadwick will tell the meeting in Oxford.

Legislation halved the amount of lead in petrol in 1986 and phased out general use of leaded petrol in 1999, and atmospheric lead emissions have declined as a result. But although lead emissions have declined, ecologists did not know whether this fall in airborne lead levels was reflected in aquatic ecosystems. In northern Europe the otter is the dominant predator of freshwater food chains, and so levels of pollutants in otter tissues can be a useful indicator of pollution in the environment in which it feeds.

According to Dr Chadwick: “Our results show that what we do in terms of legislative control on pollutants really works - declines in lead in the atmosphere have been dramatic, and have been followed by declines of this heavy metal in the otter - a species of considerable conservation concern. The fact that levels have declined in the otter means that levels have almost certainly declined throughout the aquatic food chain - as top predator, otter tissues provide an indication of intake further

down the food chain.”

The results also have imporant implications for human health. “Reductions in environmental lead levels are good news. In humans, lead can damage the central nervous system including the brain; it also affects the kidney, and reduces growth - particularly in children. These effects on human health provided the impetus behind legislative controls. While it is not possible to measure most of these factors in the otter, similar effects have been shown in other mammals, and it is likely that lower lead levels are related to a healthier otter population.”

The research highlights the importance of long-term monitoring and archiving of samples, and shows that with the help of the public, valuable use can be made of undesirable events such as wildlife road traffic accidents.

Dr Chadwick will present her findings at 10:30 on Thursday 7 September 2006 at the British Ecological Society Annual Meeting.

Becky Allen | alfa
Further information:
http://www.otterproject.cf.ac.uk

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Air pollution leads to cardiovascular diseases
21.08.2018 | Universitätsmedizin der Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

nachricht Waste in the water – New purification techniques for healthier aquatic ecosystems
24.07.2018 | Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: It’s All in the Mix: Jülich Researchers are Developing Fast-Charging Solid-State Batteries

There are currently great hopes for solid-state batteries. They contain no liquid parts that could leak or catch fire. For this reason, they do not require cooling and are considered to be much safer, more reliable, and longer lasting than traditional lithium-ion batteries. Jülich scientists have now introduced a new concept that allows currents up to ten times greater during charging and discharging than previously described in the literature. The improvement was achieved by a “clever” choice of materials with a focus on consistently good compatibility. All components were made from phosphate compounds, which are well matched both chemically and mechanically.

The low current is considered one of the biggest hurdles in the development of solid-state batteries. It is the reason why the batteries take a relatively long...

Im Focus: Color effects from transparent 3D-printed nanostructures

New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference

Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...

Im Focus: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

LaserForum 2018 deals with 3D production of components

17.08.2018 | Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Air pollution leads to cardiovascular diseases

21.08.2018 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Researchers target protein that protects bacteria's DNA 'recipes'

21.08.2018 | Life Sciences

A paper battery powered by bacteria

21.08.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>